My pre-game pattern was to arrive at least three hours before kick-off with most of the other linemen. We were often the earliest to get our ankles taped and spend time on the field. The stadium was empty at this point, and we would sit on the bench reviewing audible calls to stay in lockstep.
Next, I headed back into the locker room to crank up Metallica's Sandman while taping my knuckles to prevent them from coming out during hits and grabs.
To further prepare my mind, I conjured up ugly memories and fictional stories, all intended to generate intense anger. Imagine forcing yourself to this point of rage brought on by the most wicked thoughts imaginable. I would not even recognize myself in the mirror before a game because I looked like a padded-up serial killer.
By the time we took the field, I would have sweat dripping off my chin and was ready to fight with a froth in my mouth. That was the sign that I was all in and ready to battle. If that process would not wear on a person over time, I am not sure what would.
More on this topic and others in my forthcoming memoir, Aggressively Human, to be released on all platforms in November 2023.